2015 – This injured worker was involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident in June 2014. He was the passenger in the “sleeper berth” of a semi-tractor truck that was broadsided by another vehicle and rolled over. This gentleman suffered head, leg and shoulder injuries. When he attempted to return to work, the Employer terminated him for a ticket that he received in utilizing a hand held GPS device to assist him in locating a store where he was to deliver product. The Employer and its insurance company attempted to claim that this was terminating for cause that would disallow any further Workers’ Compensation money benefits. The Judge, at trial, found that termination was for cause, however, that termination did not prohibit this gentleman from receiving further money benefits as long as he demonstrated the loss of future income was related to his accident. The evidence proved that was, in fact, the case.
The Employer and its Insurance Carrier also attempted to deny the claim because of “misconduct”. Again, the basis for this misconduct allegation was the use of the hand-held device in furtherance of the employee’s job duties. The fact that the injured worker did not report the traffic violation immediately upon receipt was not evidence of wanton or willful disregard of the Employer’s interest and did not show the degree of carelessness or negligence required by the Workers’ Comp stature to sustain a misconduct defense.
The injured worker was awarded all the benefits that were requested and is currently receiving medical care and working elsewhere.